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NCAA Tournament 2017: Computer predictions for wide-open Sweet 16 field

21 March, 2017, 15:04 | Author: Alberta Rodriguez
  • Jonathan Daniel  Getty Images

You could make the case that the four most exciting games through the first three days of the NCAA Tournament involved teams from the conference - with the Michigan-Oklahoma State shootout, Wisconsin's elimination of defending champion and No. 1 overall seed Villanova, the Northwestern-Gonzaga thriller, and the last game of Saturday night, Purdue's fending off a furious rally by Iowa State.

Louisville's opponent also continued a surprising conference trend.

At this stage of the NCAAs, every team left is brimming with confidence. With the Tar Heels up one with 49 seconds remaining in regulation, guard Joel Berry II drove to the basket in a play many observers are calling a travel and charging foul. Six of the eight games in the Sweet 16 round have totals north of 140. Then, 11th-seeded Xavier dominated third-seeded Florida State in the Round of 32.

Xavier was awarded a No. 11 seed after coming together and reaching, and losing, the conference championship game. Not necessarily because we want the Fighting Irish to win, but because for the first time in what feels like an eternity there are no other games to flip to, and we're sort of freaking out about it right now. "Ultimately we're going to have to accomplish that Final Four to kind of put it to rest and all that". "It would be a really cool thing if we can get there". No. 9 Virginia Tech was dismissed in the first round by a blistering No. 8 Wisconsin. Gonzaga has held steady as -3 favorites against West Virginia.

It's on to the weekend that many consider the defining mark of a season.

Anyways, more actual good teams in the Sweet 16 means more actually good games, rather than lopsided, 20-point beatdowns.

Watch Duke lose to SC? No. 3 seed Baylor (27-7 ): More defense in the East. "Whether it's the 3-ball or not, it's finding multiple different ways to win and taking what the game gives us". The Bears are 21st, allowing 63.5 points, and featuring athletic ability and depth. Baylor survived an upset against USC while SC pulled off the unthinkable over Duke.

Prediction: Sindarius Thornwell capitalizes on another showcase opportunity, Gamecocks win 78-74.

Fifth-seeded Notre Dame was almost bumped off in the first round by Princeton but managed to survive only to get booted in the second round by No. 4 West Virginia.

The regionals start Thursday and are in New York City (East), Memphis (South), San Jose, California, (West) and Kansas City, Missouri (Midwest). The Mountaineers are getting strong play in the backcourt, which is especially crucial in March. It seems the road to the Final Four is tougher to predict than ever - so it's best to take the computer's help. Arizona shot 59 percent in the second half of a second-round win against St. Mary's after a sluggish first half. Now the Tar Heels meet fourth-seeded Butler (25-8), which beat No. 1 seed Villanova twice this season. Preseason No. 1 Duke, a 2 seed, was stunned by seventh-seeded SC, a game which the Gamecocks controlled for most of the contest. The defense is solid, and Butler is shooting 47 percent from 3-point range in the tourney.

While one IL team was playing for its NCAA Tournament lives Saturday, another was doing its best to steal the spotlight. No. 2 Kentucky (31-5): Rematch!

BIG REMATCH: Back on December 3, Kentucky and UCLA met in Lexington. The star freshman played so well in the second half of the second-round win over Cincinnati, it looked as if he could carry the Bruins all the way to the Final Four.

"I feel bad for Michigan", Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. In 2011, one-fourth of the Sweet 16 was composed of double-digit seeds - and in the following three years, there would be at least 13 upsets and three low seeds going past the first weekend each time. Kentucky-UCLA is essentially a pick'em matchup at the sportsbooks. Guard Frank Mason III is averaging 21 points a game in the tourney. Faced with skepticism all season, the Big Ten has mounted a powerful rebuke in the bracket.

No. 7 seed MI (26-11) vs. Piping-hot MI will take on No. 3 OR on Thursday as well. They've proven that they can hit from the outside as well as score with big man Moe Wagner. All of those games were good, and both UNC-Arkansas and Oregon-Rhode Island featured late comebacks, always useful to boost viewing numbers.

Prediction: Momentum carries MI to a 75-74 victory.

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